Gaming on the Italian Peninsula

Gaming and the Italian Salone

A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “either to please or to educate” (“aut delectare aut prodesse est”). The word salon is the French adaption of the Italian word salone, from sala (a reception room found in the renaissance palazzo).

The salon was an Italian invention of the 1500s. In cinquecento Italy, scintillating circles formed in prominent smaller courts, often galvanized by the presence of a beautiful and educated patroness such as Isabella d’Este or Elisabetta Gonzaga. Italy had an early tradition of the “salone”; the courtesan Tullia d’Aragona held a salon in the 1500s, and Giovanna Dandolo became known as a patron and gatherer of artists as wife of Pasqual Malipiero, the doge in Venice in from 1457 to 1462. These gatherings proved to be the model for later salons in Italy and the salon movement which flourished in France throughout the 1600s and 1700s.

Games Fit For a Medici Princess

Isabella de’ Medici, the daughter of Cosimo de Medici, was a beautiful, intellectual, and accomplished renaissance princess in Florence. Under the protection of her father, Isabella was able to live a life of parties, loves, and intellectual pursuits, while managing to delay her move to her husband’s home in Rome for over a decade. She was the hostess of a glittering circle of her Florentine contemporaries.

Arms of Este, from a 16th c. ceiling fresco in the Villa d'Este, Tivoli.

Arms of Este, from a 16th c. ceiling fresco in the Villa d’Este, Tivoli.

Beautiful and liberated, she not only matched the intellectual accomplishments of her male cohorts, but sought amorous parity also, engaging in an adulterous affair with her husband’s cousin. It was this affair – and her very success as First Lady of Florence – that led to her death at the hands of her husband at the age of just thirty-four in 1576. She left behind a remarkable story, and as her legacy a son who became the best of the Orsini Dukes, immortalized by Shakespeare as Duke Orsino in “Twelfth Night”. It is documented that in her salone, conversations, refreshments, and pastimes could be had for hours that bled into days.

Plausibly, games fashionable in Italy in the 1500s would have been played in a salone like that of Isabella de Medici. Some of the more popular games, some with Italian origins (*) are:

  • Sicilian Chess* – Board game, 1557 (CA#71 p7)
  • Blind Dice* – Dice game, 1500s (KWHb p145)
  • Italian Draughts* – Board game,1500s (Murray 4.3.3, Bell p73)
  • Six-Men’s Morris Board game, obsolete by 1600 (Murray 3.3.20, Bell p92)
  • Basset – Card game, 1400s (Parlett p8/53/58/ 64/ 77 and CA#71 p15)
  • Cuckoo – Card game, 1400s (Parlett p31, CA#71 p18)

 Games Italians Played

These instructions are taken largely from Master Damiano Elie Bellini’s “Gaming Italian Style” class handout.  Grazie mille to him for allowing me to share his information and sources.


Sicilian Chess

This version dates to 1557 and is a variant of medieval chess very similar to the modern game.

In the Sicilian game the pieces, save the queen, move as in modern chess. There is no castling move of the rook and king, and no two-square opening pawn moves. A pawn reaching the opposite side of the board can be promoted to the capital piece that started in the square the pawn reached. A pawn reaching the king or queen’s square would be promoted to bishop. The queen is restricted to move four squares diagonally or one square orthogonal.

libro de los juegos chess

Blind Dice

This is a 16th century Italian gambling game.

The game uses six cubed dice, each having a number from one to six on one side with the other five sides blank. The total of all six dice is twenty-one. The game is played by one player at a time taking on the house. They player puts up a stake, then rolls the dice, and the payoffs are as follows:


Number Rolled Payoff
0 Player loses stake to the house
1 – 8 Player keeps the stake
9 – 10 House pays an amount equal to the stake
11 – 12 Pays twice the stake
13 Pays three times the stake
14 Pays four times the stake
15 Pays five times the stake
16 Pays ten times the stake
17 Pays fifteen times the stake
18 Pays twenty times the stake
19 Pays twenty-five times the stake
20 Pays fifty times the stake
21 Pays ninety times the stake


libro de los juegos dice

Italian Draughts

Draughts was played in France, England, and the Spanish Marches before 1500. The first mention of this checker-like game being played in Italy dates from 1527. Elsewhere in Europe it was played later than 1550, which confirms an eastward spread from France.

In the Italian version the board (8×8) is placed so that the double black corner is on the player’s left instead of right. Each player has twelve pieces set up on the black squares of the first three rows in front of him. The pieces move only on the black squares and black has the first move. The pieces move diagonally forwards one square at a time and may not move backwards.

The object of the game is to capture or immobilize your opponent’s twelve pieces. A capture is made by a piece (man) jumping over an enemy piece and landing on a vacant square immediately beyond. If the capturing piece can continue to leap over the other enemy pieces they are also captured and removed from the board. When a piece finally comes to rest the move is finished.

If an uncrowned piece reaches the opponents back line it becomes a king. Crowning ends a move. After crowning a king can move diagonally backwards and forwards one square at a time, and captures by a standard jump. There may be several kings on the board at a time.

In Italian Draughts, a number of rules apply to captures:

  • A player had to take when possible or lose the game.
  • A man (piece) could not take a king
  • If he had a choice of capture he was forced to take the greater number; if this number were equal (each option containing a king) when there are two or more options, then he must capture wherever the king occurs first. This rule was known in Italy as ‘il piu col piu’ (‘the greater to the greater’).

 libro de los juegos chess ladies

Six-Men’s Morris

Morris, also known as Mill, Mills, and Merrills, was popular in Italy, France, and England during the middle ages but was obsolete by 1600.

Each player has six pieces and they are entered (placed) alternately, one at a time; each player trying to form a row along one of the sides of either square. If a player succeeds in this he is allowed to remove any one of his opponent’s pieces. When all of the pieces have been played the game continues by alternate moves of a piece along a line to an adjacent empty point. When a player is reduced to two men, the game is over.

In Shakespeare‘s 16th century work A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania laments that it is no longer played: “The nine men’s morris is filled up with mud” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II, Scene I).

libro de los juegos mulino



From the Italian bassetta, a card game also known as barbacole, considered one of the most polite pastimes. It was intended for persons of the highest rank because of the great losses or gains that might be accrued by the players. This game financially endangered some of the great French houses and was banned by the King of France.

Basset is a banking game, with a significant advantage for the house. It is purely a game of chance. One player is the banker.

The banker has a full deck of cards, well shuffled. Each punter, or player, has the 13 cards of a single suit of a similar deck in front of him, or perhaps a board with marks for the 13 denominations. Punters put bets on their boards before play begins. Once all bets are placed, the banker turns up a single card from his deck (made up of multiple decks of cards**) and wins all bets placed on the denomination shown (suit is ignored). After the first card is turned up the banker turns up cards from his deck in pairs, putting them on two piles alternately, until all bets are resolved or the deck is exhausted. Denominations that match a card turned up on the first pile lose their bets to the banker; denominations that match a card turned up on the second pile win. The banker must pay equal to any winning bets. As with the first card turned up, the banker wins any bets that remain on the last card turned.

Bassetta Sheet

On any winning bet the punter may decline his winnings and let the bet ride in the hope of further winnings. If the same denomination shows up again on the winning pile, the banker must pay seven times the bet; if the bet is let ride again and wins, the banker pays 15 times; if it is let ride and shows up a fourth time on the winning pile the banker must pay 30 times the bet. Finally, if it shows up four times in one deal, the punter lets it ride into the next hand, and the same card shows up winners a fifth time, the banker must pay 60 times the bet. The decision to let a bet ride is marked by bending up a corner of the card it lies on each time (this is destructive of cards, so it is suggested that you use some other way to mark a riding bet).

Once a payment is declined by a punter (leaving a bet to ride) the punter cannot change his mind until the card shows up again on the winning pile, when he again has the choice of taking his winnings or letting it ride.

** One deck of cards is sufficient for 2 to 3 players, each additional deck allows up to four more players.



Also known as ranter-go-round, gnav, killekort, chase the ace, and hexencarteis. Cuckoo was first mentioned in Cornwall in the early fifteenth century. By the end of that century it had spread throughout Europe and become a favorite in Scandinavia. From there is spread to the Baltics, Russia, and northern Germany. It is, allegedly, the oldest card game for which directions were printed in the Russian language. It was also quite popular in southern Italy and the western Mediterranean islands.

It is a game for any number of players. Cards rank king=high to ace=low without regard to suit. A stake is determined at the start. The players are all dealt one card each. After the deal, each player, starting from the dealers left, may stand or demand to swap cards with the player to his left. A player may only refuse to swap if he is holding a king, which must then be shown. This continues until it returns to the dealer, who may replace his card with one drawn at random from the pack, if he wishes.

The cards are then revealed and the player holding the lowest ranked card must then pay the predetermined stake to the pot. If two or more players tie for the lowest rank, they must each contribute to the pot. After a player has lost a predetermined number of hands, usually three, he is out of the game. Play continues until there is only one player left in, who then wins the pot.



Bell, R.C. Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations, Vols. 1 & 2. Dover Publications.

Complete Anachronist #4. Indoor Games, or How to While Away a Siege. SCA, Inc.

Known World Handbook (Third Edition). SCA, Inc.

Murray, H.J.R. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Hacker Art Books, Inc.

Partlett, David. A History of Card Games. Oxford University Press.




Royal Styles of Address

When thinking about developing your persona one easy way to slip into character is to use language. For instance when I say “Hello” it is a much different feel than when I say “Buongiorno“. To help those of the Italian persuasion I have compiled a list of titles for use in persona below. Prego!


1490 Carpaccio - Two Ladies

1490 Carpaccio – Two Ladies


From the 12th to the 15th centuries the kings of France, England, Castile, Portugal and Aragon used the style Highness (Fr: Altesse, Ger: Hoheit, It: Altezza, Sp: Alteza) as their title among others such as Excellency. In 1519 Emperor Charles V began using the term Majesty for his elevated status. France followed suit, as did other Sovereigns.  Once kings moved to using Majesty, princes and princesses appropriated Highness. Later, only the crown prince was considered Royal Highness, and his siblings or children called simply Highness, following the Venetian and Genoese tradition of using Altezza Serenissma, or Most Serene Highness.


List of SCA-Related Italian Titles:

  • Sua Maesta Reale (His/Her Royal Majesty)
  • Sua Altezza Reale (His/Her Royal Highness)
  • Sua Altezza Serenissima (His/Her Most Serene Highness)
  • Sua Eccellenza (His/Her Excellency or Grace)
  • Maestro/Maestra (Master/Mistress)
  • Lordship/Ladyship (Onorato Signore/ Onorata Signora)
  • Lord/Lady (Signore/Signora)
  • Lady-in-waiting (Dama di corte)




Enciclopedia Italiana
Pine, L.G. Titles: How the King became His Majesty, 1907.
Saint-Simon. Mémoires, 1709.


Other Sources on Italian Noble Titles:


Cassone of the Italian Renaissance

After watching the progress of Mistress Maymunah’s miniature cassone I decided I might try to emulate her endeavor and paint a wooden box for all my period game accessories in the same style. I looked for information on needlework and illumination patterns popular in Italy from 1400-1600 and found this GREAT article on the cassone. With permission from the author (Jeanine In Canada) I have posted some of it here along with a link ( to the full article on her site. Enjoy!


Cassone by Lo Scheggia

Cassone by Lo Scheggia

~Below is a copy of the text of her article along with images~

The history of the Italian cassone (marriage casket, coffer, or chest) dates back to ancient Roman times. Referred to often as forzieri before the 15th century, they often came in pairs and were a gift to the bride in which she could take her things to her new household without the personal wealth of her trousseau items being on public view. Traditionally she made a wedding procession through the streets of the city from her house to that of her groom, or in the case of foreign marriages, into the city of her betrothed as brides usually went to live in the family home of the groom. The cassoni soon became so richly ornamented that they themselves become symbols of the wealth of the bride’s trousseau and family and were considered some of the most precious pieces of household furniture.

“The cassone—that most suggestive article of Italian furniture—was dressed with a flat cover of brocade or velvet or with a thin long cushion. In no case did the cover conceal the work which was lavished on the cassoni by their makers, for this chest was the especial pet of the decorator—the designer being sometimes the architect of the building.”
— Renaissance Textiles, Antiques Digest, 1930.

cassone at palazzo davanzanti of wood metal velvet

Metal and velvet cassone in the Palazzo Davanzati, Florence.


Italian cassoni were often richly decorated with Intarsia (inlaid wood), gilded Pastiglia (reliefs of very fine gesso), painted, carved or a combination of all these types, sometimes even having ivory carvings or bronzework. The ornamentation being so precious that the cassoni were often dismantled in later centuries so that the panels could be used as wall decorations. Many painted wooden panels in today’s museums are actually the panels of cassoni (see below – painted cassoni panels). Generally ornamented on the front and the two ends, they were sometimes decorated on the back although this side was only seen in the bride’s procession to her new home. The inside of the lid too, was often decorated, both elaborately or simply and sometimes the inventory of the cassone’s contents was written on it. The cassoni were most often lined with fabric.

Early painted panels depicted notable women like Penthesilea, Hippolyta and Emilia; Dido, the warrior Camilla, the Sabine Women, Lucrezia of Rome and Verginia and other heroines from ancient history done with the idea of guiding the bride toward exemplary behaviour. Scenes and symbols representing fertility were also popular. Lorenzo de’Medici (1449 – 1492) records cassoni with ‘Petrarchan triumphs’ in his inventories signalling perhaps a move toward less morally instructive imagery. In fact, painting styles on the cassoni changed around 1440 from Gothic to Renaissance style.

cassone from collezioni comunali bologna

Gilt cassone in the Museum Collezioni Comunali d’Arte, Bologna.


Sienese cassoni tended toward more romantic themes while the Florentine ones were “fiercely didactic”. In the Veneto, production was mainly in Verona and painted cassoni often had mythological stories painted on them. In the mid-15th century, Umbria and Northern Italy favoured complex scenes. Florence introduced a new style of Pastiglia at the end of the 1400s based on ancient sculpture, whereas previously Pastiglia patterns had imitated textiles or were repeating patterns. Milan favoured high-relief free-flowing foliage. By the early 16th century the overall trend was more toward lower-relief classical ornament. The mid 1500s saw change in the shape itself of the cassoni with raised lids and bulbous bases often with lion’s paws for feet. Bologna’s cassoni exhibited friezes with carved griffins, foliage and even Bucrania. While painted cassoni were popular in Florence, Venice preferred inlaid geometrical designs. In the Abruzzo, wooden cassoni were carved with sayings like: Onestà fa bella donna [Virtue makes a beautiful woman]. In Sardinia cassoni were traditionally carved wood, often varnished with opaque black with geometrical motifs – those which can also be found in their traditional rugs, tapestries and Filet lacework: florals, peacocks, doves, etc. Many Sardinian artisans still produce the cassoni today although in Sardinia they go by the name of cassapanca. Inputting “cassapanche sarde” into a Google search will amaze you!

Famous artists of the Renaissance like Paolo Uccello (c 1397 – 1475), Pinturicchio (c 1454 – 1513), Filippino Lippi (c 1457 – 1504), Masaccio (1401 – 1428) and his brother Scheggia (1406 – 1486), Benozzo Gozzoli (c 1421 – 1497), and Sandro Botticelli (c 1444 – 1510) and many others as well as countless minor artists were commissioned to paint cassoni. Several of today’s surviving cassoni panels have been attributed to the Florentine workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni (c 1416 – 1465) which specialized in work for private citizens. During this period, Florence was well-known for exceptionally magnificent cassoni.

cassone painted in palazzo davanzati

Painted cassone in the Palazzo Davanzati, Florence.


Both Cennini (c 1370 – c 1440) and Vasari (1511 – 1574) mention cassoni in their written works. Cennini gives instruction on which methods to use when painting cassoni in his Il Libro dell’Arte (1437). Vasari notes in his The Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550) that the fronts and sides of the cassoni were depicted with fables from Ovid and other authors or stories by Greek and Latin historians and even love stories, jousts and similar fair. He also notes that the two family’s co-joined heraldry was also visible at the corners and elsewhere on the chests. Vasari recounts the famous artists of the previous centuries (one artist in particular, Dello Delli c 1404 – c 1470, painted quite a number of cassoni) who were not embarrassed to paint the cassoni as were the artists of his day signalling perhaps the period when ‘professional’ quality cassoni painting was in decline.

Italian cassoni were frequently made of various woods like pine, poplar and chestnut but largely of walnut. They tended to be larger than northern European and English marriage chests, ranging in size from 38 x 130 cm to 43 x 175.8 cm. Lower income families followed the tradition of the cassoni but while they were still large in size they were often unadorned.

The contents of the cassoni could be anything portable the bride chose to bring with her to the marriage but mainly consisted of clothing, embroidered linens – both household and personal, toiletries, sewing and embroidery implements and materials (often whole bolts of homespun fabrics), jewelry and perhaps a few books.

“Isabella d’Este arrived in Mantua as the bride of Francesco II Gonzaga in 1490. In her luggage she brought thirteen painted chests, and Ercole de’ Roberti, the Ferrarese artist who designed them, travelled with her.” (The Court of Ferrara & its Patronage, by Marianne Pade, Lene Waage Petersen, Daniela Quarta, 1990.) Today we tend to think of a single marriage chest per bride, but this was not always the case. The more wealthy the bride’s family, the higher the number of cassoni she brought with her.”

For more information and photos see the full original article here.

Cassone circa 1490, made in Verona, housed in Poldi Pezzoli Museum.

Cassone circa 1490, made in Verona, housed in Poldi Pezzoli Museum.

Italian Surnames From a Cinquecento Armorial

I wanted to share this information on 16th Century Italian Surnames as researched by Coblaith Muimnech, who holds the copyright to the text.

Signor Muimnech has separately indexed the place names and house names found in the armorial. Below is a map of the origin of names he listed.

Late Quattrocento Map of Italy

Excerpt List of Names from Coblaith’s Article

DE ABAGIO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 24r
DE ABBRIXIO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 29r
ABIATE, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 9r
DE ABONDIOLIS, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 24r
ABRAMI, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 1r; 274, folio 5r
ACARDOLO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 1r
ACCEPTATI, VOLTERRA (Volterra) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 127r
ACCIAIOLI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 9r
ACCIALINI, ANCONA (Ancona) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 215r
DE ACCORA, BOVIS ROMA (Rome) BSB Cod.icon. 268, folio 31r
ACCOTTANTO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 2r; 274, folio 6r
ACCOTTĀTO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 6r
ACERBI, PERVGIA (Perugia) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 256r
ACHARIGI, SIENA (Siena) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 32r
ACOLTI, AREZZO (Arezzo) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 162r
ACORDOLO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 5r
DE ALBAIRATE, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 33r
ALBAN, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 4r; 274, folio 8r
ALBANI, VENETIA (Venice); VRBIN (Urbino) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 7r; 274, folio 247r
DE ALBANO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folios 26r, 33r
DE ALBARATE, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 27r
ALBAREGNO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 5r; 274, folios 9r, 10r
ALBARENNO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 6r
DE ALBE, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 27r
ALBERGATI, BONONIA (Bologna) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 161r
ALBERGOTTI, AREZZO (Arezzo) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 162r
ALBERIGHI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 11r
DE ALBERINIS, ROMA (Rome) BSB Cod.icon. 268, folio 31r
ALBERTI, VENETIA (Venice), VRBIN (Urbino); VERONA (Verona), VICENZA (Vicenza); BORGHO ASANSIPOLCRO (Sansepolcro) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 5r; 274, folios 10r, 247r; 276, folios 2r, 67r; 278, folio 191r
ALBERTI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 11r
DE ALBERTIS, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folios 27r, 28r, 33r
DE ALBERTONIBVS, ROMA (Rome) BSB Cod.icon. 268, folio 31r
DE ALBIATE, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 28r
ALBICIO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 9r
ALBIRIO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 6r
ALBISO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 7r
ALBIZI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 11r
ALBORESI, BONONIA (Bologna) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 161r
DI ALBRISIS, MANTVA (Mantua) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 120r
DE ALBRIXIS, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 29r
DE ALBVXIIS, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 32r
BABBI, VOLTERRA (Volterra) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 128r
BABILONIO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folios 19r, 20r
BARBA MAGOR, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 40r
BARBA ROMANI, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 40r
BARBACHOLLO (macron over second B), VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 36r
BARBACIA, BONONIA (Bologna) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 166r
BARBADORI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 24r
BARBALINI, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 28r
BARBAMACHOLLO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 36r
BARBANI, VENETIA (Venice); AREZZO (Arezzo) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folios 37r, 38r; 278, folio 163r
DE BARBANARIO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 63r
BARBARIGI, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 34r; 274, folio 11r
BARBARO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folios 22r, 23r; 274, folio 13r
BARBAROMAN, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folios 20r, 21r
BARBATO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 25r
BARBAZINI, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 28r
BARBERAN, VICENZA (Vicenza) BSB Cod.icon. 276, folio 69r
DA BARBERINO, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 24r
BARBETA, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 23r
BARBI, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 40r
BARBIERI, BONONIA (Bologna) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 165r
BARBIGIA, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 21r
BARBO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon.272, folios 30r, 31r; 274, folio 12r
BARBOLANI, VENETIA (Venice); AREZZO (Arezzo) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 38r; 278, folio 164r
BARBOLINI, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 35r
CALANDRI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 47r
CALĀDRI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 45r
CALANDRINI, LVCA (Lucca) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 8r
CALBI, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 80r
CALBO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 81r; 274, folio 22r
CALCAGNINI, FERRARIA (Ferrara) BSB Cod.icon. 275, folio 49r
DE CALCHANO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 112r
DE CALCO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 113r
CALDARINI, BONONIA (Bologna) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 174r
CALDERARA, VICENZA (Vicenza) BSB Cod.icon. 276, folio 75r
CALDOGNE, VICENZA (Vicenza) BSB Cod.icon. 276, folio 75r
CALIARA, VERONA (Verona) BSB Cod.icon. 276, folio 13r
CALLOCCI, SIENA (Siena) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 39r
DE CAL[N?]IS, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 106r
CALOPRARA, VICENZA (Vicenza) BSB Cod.icon. 276, folio 75r
CALVACANTI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 51r
CALVANE, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 47r
DE CALVENZANO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 106r
DE CALVIO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 113r
DE CALVIS, ROMA (Rome) BSB Cod.icon. 268, folio 44r
CALZA (but with a retrograde Z), PADVA (Padua); VICENZA (Vicenza) BSB Cod.icon. 275, folio 7r; 276, folio 75r
DE FIALIS, ROMA (Rome) BSB Cod.icon. 268, folio 59r
FIAMOLIN, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 156r
DE FIANDKONIS, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 186r
FIASCHI, VOLTERRA (Volterra) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 143r
FIDELI, PESARO (Pesaro); BORGHO ASANSIPOLCRO (Sansepolcro) BSB Cod.icon. 275, folio 66r; 278, folio 196r
DE FIDELLIS, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 186r
QVEI DALLA FIDRAIA, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 66r
DE FIEDRICIS, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 186r
FIERMONTI BORGHO, ASANSIPOLCRO (Sansepolcro) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 196r
DE FIESCHO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 187r
FIESI, BONONIA (Bologna) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 182r
FIGA, VERONA (Verona) BSB Cod.icon. 276, folio 26r
DE FIGINO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 187r
FIGIOVANNI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 66r
DE FILAGO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 188r
FILIARCHI, PISTOIA (Pistoia) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 112r
DA FILICHAIA, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 67r
DE FINO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 188r
FIOCARDA, VICENZA (Vicenza) BSB Cod.icon. 276, folio 84r
FIOLARIO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 156r
FIOLO, VENETIA (Venice) BSB Cod.icon. 272, folio 155r, 156r
FIORANĀTI, PISTOIA (Pistoia) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 112r
FIORAVANTI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 67r
FIORENSI, PISTOIA (Pistoia) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 112r
FIORINA, VERONA (Verona) BSB Cod.icon. 276, folio 26r
DE FIORINO, MEDIOLANVM (Milan) BSB Cod.icon. 270, folio 188r
FIRAVANTI, FLORENTIA (Florence) BSB Cod.icon. 277, folio 66r
DI FIORELLI, PISA (Pisa) BSB Cod.icon. 278, folio 87r
FIVBE, BONONIA (Bologna) BSB Cod.icon. 274, folio 182r
FIVME, PADVA (Padua) BSB Cod.icon. 275, folio 13r

The full article and names from A-Z can be found at

A Heraldic Post


A lovely homage to period heraldy. I do hope to bring this tradition back to life in Gleann Abhann by writing letters of recommendation for our hard-working Heralds. The period Italian word for heraldry is araldica :)

Originally posted on konstantia kaloethina:

One of the things that I am allowed to do, as both a member of the College of Arms and specifically as a Principal Herald is that I have an opportunity to promote heralds to a rank within the College of Arms called the Herald Extraordinary.  This, per the July 1981 LoAR, found here, states the following about this august rank.

“The rank that I have decided to add is that of Herald Extraordinary. This is a rank in use in England today, whenever they create a Herald’s post for some occasion that is not to become a permanent position on the-College of Arms’ roster. The rank of Herald Extraordinary shall be permanent so long as the holder continues to remain active in SCA heraldry. It shall fall in rank below a full Herald but above a Pursuivant. Each Herald Extraordinary shall have a title that is his/her own…

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Script For Your Persona

Well, we have been on the subject of persona development and persona handwriting for a few weeks now so I thought I might offer the information I’ve found via a font site authored by Pia Frauss. She has studied the script handwriting of several notable figures from pre-17th century Europe. Here is what she found:

This first historically-based script is of the French persuasion — I know, not my usual focus, but a dear friend asked about handwriting for her persona and I feel happy to be able to contribute something. Don’t worry, the rest of the scripts are Italian!

XiBeronne is a plain Black Letter script inspired by a very beautiful and very celebrated French manuscript written at the beginning of the 15th century, containing — and splendidly illustrating — Gaston Phoebus’ Book of the Hunt. Illustrations of that manuscript were displayed on the Net by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Just a bit of information: Gaston Phoebus, Count of Foix (Foix is a pretty town on the French side of the Pyrenees), was a Gascon nobleman, living from 1331 up to 1391. He went occasionally to fight in Prussia, intent on avoiding to take sides in the war raging between French and Englishmen in southern France (or Aquitania, as it was called then), throughout the 14th century. History doesn’t portray him as a pleasant character. His Book of the Hunt, however, written during the last years of his life, didn’t rest confined to that expensive manuscript. Among the earliest works to be published in print, it turned into a bestseller at once, and continued as such, all over Europe, for centuries to come. He was the most famous authority on his subject, and his instructions were followed so eagerly that by the 19th century, France had been literally emptied of deer. I sincerely hope this piece of news won’t keep you from enjoying my font (after all, the illiterate poachers may have had a hand in the disaster, mayn’t they?).


Tagettes & TagettesPlus are the type of Italian chancery cursive of the 16th and 17th century that is mostly called Cancellaresca. They were developped out of a page of samples created by the French writing master Louis Barbedor around 1650 (unfortunately, the man’s name is already taken by another font, so I had to invent a fancy name). Monsieur Barbedor provided such a variety of ps and fs and gs etc. that for a while I got quite lost in that jungle. At long last, I realized, moreover, that swashing too many of the lower case glyphs would make the font look crammed. So, I finally settled on the swashed g — since that is of my own invention –, as well as a swashed f, and y, sending the swashed b, d, h, k, p, and l off to the alternate font called TagettesPlus.

Tagettes - Ital

The MalaTesta fonts are based on a writing sample, titled “Lettere piacevolle“, and dating from the 16th century. I copied it out of a book from the library, years ago, but forgot to include the caption, and kept no notes concerning the source. After turning it into a font, I had to search the Net for information … and I found it! Doing a search for that queer title led me to a Google book, by Lewis F. Day, on Penmanship of the 16th, 17th, and 18th century, which is displaying my writing sample (among lots of others), and stating that it was taken from A booke containing divers sortes of hands, published by J. de Beauchesne and J. Baildon, in 1571. Apparently, Beauchesne/Baildon didn’t name the writing master who created this “rather fantastic italic hand” — quoting Lewis F. Day’s judgment here; and I don’t think he meant it in an altogether favorable way.

(BTW, that precious Google book, which is downloadable as a free PDF, even contains two samples of Francisco Lucas’ penmanship).


You can find all of Pia Frauss’ documentation and her fonts here:

The Manuscript Challenge

Although I have not attempted to sew an entire garment before once I heard of “The Manuscript Challenge” started by Maria Neijman on Facebook I was hooked. Maria, a living history enthusiast in Sweden, challenged us to choose an outfit from a manuscript and reproduce it, staying true to all visible details and colors, and finish the project within one year. You can find the rules here on her blog and on the Facebook group here, where we share projects and advice on sewing historic clothing.

This is the manuscript I chose:

Silk Dresses from St. Ursula and Her Companions (circa 1380)

Silk Dresses from St. Ursula and Her Companions (circa 1380)

I plan to make the rose-colored gonella di seta with the blue gonella di lino/cottone underneath shown in the center of the scene. I will also re-create the hairstyle (trecce). I plan to use many many buttoni, as they were all the rage then, but these will be decorative buttons :)

I am happy to introduce my two new amici, the Annas! My amica, Anna Lindemark is making the same dress I am, and I hope to learn a lot from her. You can follow the twin St. Ursula dress by Anna from Scandanavia at her blog here.

My other amica, Anna Attiliani, lives in Italy and has a fabulous blog you can view here, and is also making a dress for the challenge. She chose the miniature in Theatrum Sanitatis from Biblioteca Casanatense, Ms.4182, tav.117 using a pretty blue wool she was gifted from Naturduche. So follow her for her updates!

Theatrum Sanitatis from Biblioteca Casanatense Ms4182 tav117


Wish us buona fortuna!